Amancio Ortega Gaona (Spanish pronunciation: , born 28 March 1936) is a Spanish business tycoon. He is the founder and former chairman of Inditex fashion group, best known for its chain of Zara clothing and accessories retail shops.
Amancio is the wealthiest retailer in the world.
The youngest of four children, Ortega was born in Busdongo de Arbás, León, Spain, to Antonio Ortega Rodríguez and Josefa Gaona Hernández from the province of Valladolid, and spent his childhood in León.
He left school and moved to A Coruña at the age of 14, due to the job of his father, a railway worker. Shortly after, he found a job as a shop hand for a local shirtmaker called Gala, which still sits on the same corner in downtown A Coruña, and learned to make clothes by hand. In 1972, he founded Confecciones Goa (his initials in reverse), selling quilted bathrobes which Ortega produced using thousands of local women organised into sewing cooperatives.
In 1975, he opened his first Zara store with his wife Rosalía Mera, so called because his preferred name Zorba was already taken.
Today, Zara is part of the Inditex group (Industrias de Diseño Textil Sociedad Anónima), of which Ortega owns 59.29%, and aside from over 6,000 stores includes the brands Zara, Massimo Dutti, Oysho, Zara Home, Kiddy’s Class, Tempe, Stradivarius, Pull and Bear, Bershka and has more than 92,000 employees.
Ortega keeps a very low profile and is known for his preference for a simple lifestyle. Until 1999, no photograph of Ortega had ever been published. He refuses to wear a tie and typically wears a simple uniform of a blue blazer, white shirt, and gray trousers, none of which are Zara products. He is said to take a very active part in the production and design process in the company.
His public appearance in 2000, as part of the warm-up prior to his company’s initial public offering on the stock market in 2001, made headlines in the Spanish financial press. However, he has only ever granted interviews to three journalists and his secrecy has led to the publication of books, such as Amancio Ortega: de cero a Zara (From Zero to Zara).
In 2011, Ortega announced his imminent retirement from Inditex, parent company of the Zara chain, stating that he would ask Inditex vice-president and CEO Pablo Isla to take his place at the helm of the textile empire. In 2012 Ortega donated about 20 million to Caritas Internationalis, a Roman Catholic relief organisation.
In 2015 Ortega gave 17 million to the health system in the Spanish region of Galicia.
In 2017, the Charity Foundation of Ortega will donate 320 million to Spains healthcare sector for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, specifically for the acquisition of 290 pieces of oncology apparatus. This is one of the largest philanthropic donations ever made in the country.